(Johnston, IA) Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush on Friday said his rivals will “pay a price” if they employ negative campaign tactics.
“My pledge is I’ll run a positive campaign and I won’t tear my opponents down,” Bush said during a news conference. “As a matter of fact, I think there is a danger in the year 2000 election for running negative campaigns. People are sick of it.”
In 1996, republican candidate Steve Forbes ran a barrage of negative ads against G.O.P. frontrunner Bob Dole. Bush has said the specter of those Forbes attack ads this time around led him to refuse federal “matching funds” for his campaign. That means Bush does not have to abide by spending limits and Bush said that lets him respond to any attack.
“Politics can be tough. I understand. I ran some pretty tough races in Texas and managed to survive,” Bush said.
Bush cited his first campaign for the Texas Governorship as evidence sticking to the high road works.
“One of the reasons I believe I did well against Governor Richards is because I treated her with respect and debated her on philosophy and ideas and rejected the politics of tearing each other up and I think Texans were so surprised that that happened, I stood in pretty good light,” Bush said.
Bush has raised $37 million for his presidential campaign, far outdistancing all other candidates on the republican ledger. His G.O.P. rivals have accused him of trying to buy the election.
“I know some people in the field are complaining about my capacity to garner support, my capacity to have the people speak, but I suggest to you they’d like to trade places,” Bush said Friday during taping of an Iowa Public Television program.
Friday’s visit marked Bush’s second trip to Iowa in July, however, the news conference and t.v. show taping were Bush’s only campaign stops. Bush cancelled a Friday morning event in West Des Moines “out of respect for the Kennedy family” according to an aide as the forum was scheduled during the Kennedy funeral in New York City.